Why we take our dogs out on field trips during training.
Many dog training organizations train in controlled environments, such as warehouses or farms. Some even come to you and train on your own street. While at first glance this may appear to be beneficial, it does not actually provide the real-world experience that effective dog training will require.
Indeed low-distraction environments are necessary in the early stages of training. While this can be a good place to start, it will not teach your dog to behave in other situations. These types of training facilities will teach your dog to behave in that specific location. And while your pet may perform flawlessly in that quiet location, when you decide to take them to the pet store, around traffic or maybe to a public park, you may find that these unfamiliar surroundings are simply too distracting or chaotic for your inexperienced companion. They will be hard-pressed to be able to focus or remember their training, and a bad experience can even set them back in their progress!
Here at LA School for Dogs, we make a point to train in a wide variety of locations, working our way up over time to more and more distraction situations. What we are doing is in effect teaching dogs to “generalize” their new behaviors to wherever and whenever regardless of the environmental conditions! This provides our graduates and their parents the best shot at maintaining the new training and succeeding wherever they may go with their pet.
To accomplish this, we use our customized doggy school bus, which is perfect for helping our dogs get training out in the world. This makes for a more advanced training program and result overall, and a more reliable dog in every-day life.
We begin this stage of training sometime within the second and third week of training when our dogs are performing well in the neighborhood. Our field trips allow us to train in places such as:
– Active Parking Lots
– Outdoor Dining Areas
– Pet Stores
– Coffee Shops
– Shopping Malls / Plazas
– Public Parks
Be aware that this type of exposure is not for every dog. Shy, insecure, or outright fearful dogs will take more time to get to this point, and some may not be able to handle it at all. And it may not be safe to take aggressive dogs in public in this manner. These are situations you may want to enlist a professional dog trainer to help ascertain.
If you are struggling with a dog that has received training in a warehouse or on a farm, there is a good chance that your struggle comes simply from a lack of real-world exposure. The good news is that this is not a permanent problem, and can be resolved through routine practice in a variety of locations, with varying levels of distraction. Remember that your dog will only know to behave in areas where they have practiced until they are taught through repetition that the same good behaviors are desired everywhere! Good luck!